A select group of Cal Poly students can be found on any given day dedicating their hours to pushing the pedal to the floor, ripping up dirt and hauling a giant sled across a dirt field until their multi-engine tractor cannot go any further.
These students will be featured at Cal Poly’s 33rd Annual Truck and Tractor Pull on Saturday. The event will feature tractors from the western U.S., including Cal Poly’s own Mustang Fever and Poly Thunder.
The event, run by the Cal Poly Tractor Club, has held been held almost every April since 1972, bioresource and agriculture engineering professor Mark Zohns said. In 2006, the pull was cancelled because of rain.
“If it’s down pouring cats and dogs, and not letting up, then we will have to cancel,” Zohns said. “When we canceled the pull in 2006, the rain came late and we couldn’t set up the bleachers.”
The bleachers for this year’s event are already set up, and barring rain, more than 40 competitors will come to Cal Poly to participate in the following pull classes: injected, blown, mini-modified tractors; super stock and pro-modified 4WD and 2WDD trucks; and single, multi-engine and superstock tractors.
“Hopefully, one of the tractors that’s going to show up will have five engines on it,” Cal Poly Tractor Club president Robert Brown said. “Each engine is about 2,000 horsepower each, so a total of 10,000 horsepower all together. It’s mainly for show, you can put all the power to the ground.”
Cal Poly’s own tractor, Mustang Fever, has an impressive Allison V-1710-85 Aircraft engine. The same engine was used in World War II American fighter aircrafts, such as the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk.
Building this beast was not an easy task, especially since it was a student project constructed in less than four months, Zohns said, who was a facility adviser on the project and spent many hours helping students complete the tractor.
“The students worked a lot of late nights,” Zohns said. “Gary Weisenberger and myself did a lot of the machine work in our spare time to help the students get it done in time.”
From an idea to a powerful machine in only a few months, Mustang Fever came a long way and is ready for this weekend, Zohns said.
Poly Thunder is the other Cal Poly tractor ready to let its engines roar this weekend.
Though Mustang Fever is the better-known tractor, Poly Thunder is considered to be one of the top tractors in the western U.S.
“We’ve gotten a few first places,” Brown, a bioresource and agriculture engineering junior, said. “It all depends on who shows up and who does well. Mustang Fever is usually in the middle of the pack, and Poly Thunder tends to do very well.”
This Saturday Mustang Fever and Poly Thunder will be seen ripping up dirt and raising money for students. All ticket sales from the event will go to a scholarship endowment that goes to hard-working students of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, Brown said.
Selling tickets is not difficult since the truck and tractor pull is one of the most popular events every Open House Weekend, drawing in more than 4,000 spectators. It has been the major feature of the weekend for more than 20 years, even back when Open House was called Poly Royal.
Though the event draws in large numbers every year, many students such as industrial engineering junior Bradley Jackman have never seen a tractor pull.
“I’ve never had the opportunity to see a tractor pull,” Jackman said. “I think it’s a good thing to check out because there’s such an agricultural influence at Poly.”
Mustang Fever, Poly Thunder and other powerful machines will compete at 1 p.m. across from the Crops Unit. Tickets are $8 for adults and $3 for children 10 and under.